With a small crowd packed into the Black Box theater in Warner Hall, a simple scene was illuminated with moody lighting: a table, two chairs, a concrete holding cell, and two characters, Irene and Anna. Irene has been taken into custody. She doesn’t know why.
Kicking off the beginning of spring term, Pacific’s Theatre and Dance company presented their latest production, “Meek”, written by Penelope Skinner and directed by local director Patrick Walsh. The play ran for four performances, opening on the evening of the 6th and closing with a matinee performance on the 9th.
Much in the vain of Margeret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Meek” is a dystopian story, where an oppressive government regime aims to control women and anchor society under strict religious grounds.
As the events of the play unfold, tension and emotion quickly rise. Irene learns that a song she wrote has been deemed tarnishing to the name of Christ. For this crime, she is given a death sentence. But as word gets out about her imprisonment, the song in question spreads like wildfire, sparking a political movement around the world that aims to challenge the tight grip of the oppressive rule.
Though Skinner’s script–chalk full of sharp, layered dialogue between the play’s three characters–is especially great, the production couldn’t have clicked in the way it did were it not for an outstanding cast and crew. The all women cast–Julia Neuder (‘22), Maggie Trettin (‘22), and Lauren Maland (‘20)–delivered powerful performances, each actress putting full emotional depth into the weight of the events that unfolded throughout the story.
Their performances were perfectly framed by a simple yet wholly effective set design by Tal Sanders. With such a tight space as the Black Box theater, there’s not a lot of room for a stage. But the simple set that Sanders created, with a large, moveable concrete wall that inched closer and closer to the audience as the play bore on, filled the room with claustrophobic tension and really aided in bringing the action and emotions closer to the crowd.
As the play came to a close, the tension and emotions just beginning to boil over, the audience was left with an especially powerful and timely message on the importance of artistic voice in the face of oppression and corruption. With its sharp script, phenomenal cast, and claustrophobic set design, “Meek” uncovers just how much influence artists have in society, and shows the true power of one’s own voice in inspiring and creating change in the world today.